Posts Tagged ‘Cormac McCarthy’

This Dark Road to Mercy – Wiley Cash

Posted in American Fiction, Literary Fiction, Southern Gothic on January 30th, 2014 by admin – 4 Comments

 

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (30 Jan 2014)
  • Source: NetGalley
  • My Rating: 4.5 stars

Having been very impressed by Wiley Cash’s debut novel A Land More Kind Than Home, I was really looking forward to This Dark Road to Mercy.  As in his first novel, he manages to pack a lot into a relatively short read at 240 pages.  Set in North Carolina, this is a compelling story about family ties as well as family breakdown alongside a convincing depiction of the innocence of childhood.

Narrated by a compact cast of characters, each with their own distinctive voice, this bleak tale of  loss and redemption grips the reader from the opening pages when we hear the  story of twelve year old Easter Quillby.  Easter is an unforgettable narrator who never sinks into self-pity even when disclosing the worst parts of her life so far with her six year old sister.  The two girls are not long in foster care before their wayward father, Wade,  arrives to disrupt their lives once more.  What follows is a well-paced, gripping narrative involving a particularly nasty hitman named Bobby Pruitt who is determined to settle an old score.

Wiley Cash is fast becoming one of my favourite authors as his two novels have more than satisfied my predilection for Southern Gothic.  His characterisation is spot on especially for Easter and Wade – Easter with her self-assurance, guts and determination and Wade, the washed up former minor league baseball player, who has made and, indeed, continues to make mistakes.  The bleak and stark nature of  the story with its unremitting tension is balanced with the remote possibility of redemption.

With echoes of Cormac McCarthy, especially No Country for Old Men, this novel sees Cash going from strength to strength.  More please!!

You can discover more about the author at his website here.

Wiley Cash

Photo by Tiffany B. Davis

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The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt

Posted in American Fiction, Literary Prizes on August 7th, 2011 by admin – 8 Comments

I first heard about The Sisters Brothers when it recently made it onto the Man Booker Longlist – perversely enough, it was all the mutterings about it not being a suitable nominee plus some irresistible cover lust which made me even keener to read it.

Firstly, a word of warning…this is not a pretty novel, it’s set back in the 1850s during the California Gold Rush when men were men and horses didn’t have whisperers.  There are scenes of cruelty, to both animals and humans,  so best to move on if this would detract from your reading enjoyment.

It is 1851, the Californian Gold Rush is in full swing and our narrator, Eli Sisters, hired killer, is accompanying his older brother Charlie on an eventful journey from Oregon to Sacramento, to track down and kill one Hermann Kermit Warm.  Their quest has an epic feel to it as they encounter a range of wild and wonderful characters en route, think Don Quixote meets the Coen and Blues Brothers with a dash of Cormac Mc Carthy thrown in for good measure.  Yet, it doesn’t seem derivative and ends up being a really fresh, original piece of work – defying categorisation.

Eli is a psychopath with a (slight) conscience and therein lies the conflict between the brothers.  Even as he relates their latest killing in his usual deadpan tone, you know his heart is no longer in it and he longs for a different life, even suggesting opening a store – Charlie is not particularly open to the idea…  Their story is compelling but unsettling, dark but humorous and so cinematic, you can just visualise their adventures rolling onto the big screen.

A very special novel which will entertain a wide range of readers including those biblio-butterflies who like a change of genre every now and then.

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